Humble umbrella stars on RTE

IT seems that RTE can't make a sports quiz without a brolly being in it somewhere.

Last time 'round, on Know Your Sport, the humble rain deflector was a glittering prize, leading to Tom Humphries dubbing the show, Who Wants To Own An Umbrella? This time 'round, on At The End Of The Day, the brolly has graduated to the role of team captain, in smiling Joe, the Derry gaelic football legend and ordained minister in the Church of Latter Day Pundits.

Opposing Joe is the fabled ice cream man, Tony Cascarino, and in the middle is Tracy Piggott.

So far, so good. Unlike Know Your Sport, which was aimed squarely at the anorak market, At The End Of The Day adopts the more lighthearted Question Of Sport approach, right down to a What Happened Next? round, cunningly repackaged as A Game Of Two Halves.

It will be interesting to see how many different ways Tracy can avoid using the phrase "what happened next?" lest anyone might ever suspect that this is not the most original quiz concept in the world, ever.

Having taken part myself in a top-secret TV3 sports quiz called A Game Of Two Halves though given its brief life span, I'm obliged to recall it, somewhat poignantly, as A Quiz Of One Series I'm not inclined to rush to judgement about RTE's latest effort.

However, I think it's fair to say that it has work to do if it's to rival the veteran BBC show.

Of course, so long established is A Question Of Sport that the audience at its recordings has a fan club's enthusiasm. Not so in the case of At The End Of The Day, which began with the audience going completely barmy in a the-floor-manager-has-ordered-us-to-go-completely-barmy sort of way, only for the same audience to then mysteriously disappear for long stretches of the programme, leaving Tracy and co in an atmosphere perhaps most charitably described as lunar.

Sparks, humorous or otherwise, didn't exactly fly in the desired manner between team captains Brolly and Cas; indeed, the former's jibe about the latter's problems trapping the ball seemed to annoy rather than amuse big Tony.

Actually, this exchange brought welcome tension and may suggest a productive way forward: get the two captains to play it a bit nasty rather than nice, with Joe smiling less and Cas removing his teeth if the broadcasting watershed rules permit such a terrifying spectacle.

The hero of programme one turned out to be team member Roddy Collins, who managed to misplace the founding of his old club, Bohs, by about 90 years, then tied himself in knots trying to remember the only player to score a hat-trick in an FAI Cup Final.

"He's a very good friend of mine, I can't remember his name, he worked in Jury's in Cork as a porter, he used to bring pigs' feet into the dressing room at games."

The answer, when Tracy finally put Roddy out of his misery, was Miah Dennehy.

They were talking about What Happened Next? in the Beeb's Commonwealth Games studio too, this on foot of the handing out of Wednesday's Mad Ferret award (Manchester Mad For It Mad Ferret. Geddit?). The recipient was a javelin thrower for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Elvis Smith.

And you can probably guess what happened next: Elvis, concentrating furiously, painstakingly went through his pre-throw routine, then, ready for the throw of his life, set off up the runway with an expression on his face that said "I am Elvis Smith. And I am going to throw this javelin further than it's ever been thrown before". Then he fell, almost spearing himself.

The same programme had a stadium announcer proclaiming: "Ladies and gentleman, the victory anthem of Wales". Here, the worthy recipient was weightlifter Michaela Breeze, who added gold for the snatch to silvers for the combined and the clean and jerk.

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